The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education conference runs from Wednesday through Saturday this week. I’m not an educator but this is a conference I strongly recommend. Most of the year, I read articles about how virtual worlds might be used to teach, inform, increase empathy, improve health, etc — usually based on studies run by researchers on a few dozen college undergraduates. At this conference, I get to hear from people who aren’t just speculating; they’re doing the work. They’re using Second Life and Open Grid to teach academic classes for teenage and adult students. They’re creating interactive virtual spaces for people to learn about healthy choices and medical conditions. They’re performing live theatre and music and shooting films. They’re dealing with issues like distracted students, varied technical abilities, and diverse cultures and languages. They’re building their own supplementary welcome/tutorial experiences to help people new to the world.
The conference is free and you don’t need to be an educator to attend, so if any of the sessions interest you, stop by. Some of the talks, panels, and machinima will be streamed live if you can’t attend in-world. I’m working a few shifts as a greeter and mentor, and I hope to clear my schedule so I can get to the following sessions. All times are in SLT, which is GMT -7.
- 13:00 – Virtual Education in Second Life & In the Future: keynote talk by Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg
- 14:00 – Gamification
- 16:00 – The Importance of Space
- 18:00 – Comparison of Teen Gamers and Non-Gamers in a Virtual Learning Simulation
- 7:00 – Reconstructing and Navigating the Crossroads of Community
- 9:00 – Gaming and Machinima at the Crossroads of Gender and Culture
- 10:00 – Quill & Quarrel: REAL Theater in a VIRTUAL World
- 7:00 – Creating Dinosaurs & Earning Badges
- 8:05 – Transcending Culture in Global Settings
- 11:00 – How Do Virtual Experiences Alter Users’ Visual Cognition?
- 14:05 – Educators and the Second Life Viewer
- 15:00 – Content Curation Through Virtual World Communities
- 17:00 – Real Democracy in a Virtual World
- 7:00 – 7 Years of Adaptation and Renewal in Second Life
- 16:00 – Building Global Communities through Virtual Worlds
There are many others; see the full calendar with descriptions here, including social and machinima events. There’s also an exhibit space to visit in your spare time. Perhaps I’ll see you there.